Staff Pick: Layoverland by Gabby Noone

Post by Erin O’Neill

TitleLayoverland
Author: Gabby Noone
Narrator: Sophie Amoss

When I first heard about Layoverland, I was told that it’s comparable to one of my favorite shows, The Good Place. For anyone who hasn’t watched the show, it follows a morally-unsound lady after her death and through her journey in the afterlife. She builds friendships with some memorable characters, gets herself in some cheeky trouble, and finds a little bit of romance. For me, The Good Place has it all. How could anything compare?

Let me tell you, Layoverland did not disappoint. It’s like a delicate nod to all of the things I loved about the show but with a different take on the afterlife. Though it may sound like a drama, the the story maintains light-hearted humor throughout. And just like The Good Place, the audiobook brings lots of light to a dark situation.

Beatrice Fox, a bitter, mean, and hilarious high school student, wakes up in an airplane with no idea where she’s going. One minute she was driving home, the next flying through the air. At the airport, Bea finds out she died in a car crash and was taken to… neutral ground, a.k.a Layoverland. She is told that she will, one day, be sent to Heaven but must earn her spot by proving she has a good heart. Because of Bea’s natural sarcasm and extreme pessimism, she’ll have to work extra hard to make it to Heaven. Her task: help 5000 people on their way to Heaven say goodbye to the life they lived on Earth.

Like a real airport, people are constantly coming and going through this story, which is quite impressive of Gabby Noone. Her characters were all lovable and had their own distinctive personality. I especially loved Bea’s mentor in her airport job, a perky beauty queen named Sadie, who died during a pageant in the 80s – very memorable. Noone’s writing reminded me of what I loved about The Good Place but her witty style made the story all new and exciting.

I was equally impressed with narrator Sophie Amoss, who nailed how I’d expected Bea to speak: with a young but very jaded voice. And even with so many characters, I could always distinguish who was talking by the sound of their voice. I would definitely listen to her narrate another audiobook in the future.

Overall, Layoverland was a lot of fun to listen to. It was sharp, funny, and at times even really sweet. Just like The Good Place, this book surprised me with a thought-provoking and enticing story of the afterlife, a story that I didn’t want to end.

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STAFF PICK: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson

Post by Laura Laidman

Title: Lies You Never Told Me
Author: Jennifer Donaldson
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie and Dylan Calderon

Two people hold secrets that could not only tear apart their lives, but the lives of those they care about most. Told in dueling perspectives, Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson follows Gabe, an Austin native whose latest toxic relationship isn’t ready to let him go, and Elyse, a talented young actress in Portland who finds herself falling for exactly the wrong kind of man. Separated by thousands of miles, Gabe and Elyse’s lives are about to come crashing together in a way that will leave them both changed forever.

I was immediately sucked in by the premise of this book. Just like the secrets the protagonists hold, the story itself unfolds slowly before the reader until you’re left racing through the minutes, unable to press pause until every detail is unveiled. Listening to Gabe navigate through the ending of his relationship with an obsessed woman who won’t let him go while meeting a new woman who is everything he needs is heart wrenching and, at times, terrifying. But it’s Elyse who truly held my attention throughout the audiobook. The layers of her life unfurl themselves in a dizzying display that keeps racing forward until her story left me wide-eyed with shock.

As the point of view switches throughout the book between Gabe and Elyse, so does the narration. This switching narration makes Lies You Never Told Me all the more engrossing. Jorjeana Marie’s soft, determined Elyse is met perfectly by newcomer Dylan Calderon’s compassionate and sometimes impulsive Gabe. The back and forth flow of storytelling keeps the plot crisp and quick, and helped me feel closer to both protagonists as I listened to the book.

I was honestly a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, and more so how it stuck with me for days after I completed it. I found myself returning to parts of the story to look for clues I missed along the way, and to revisit the moments that really tugged at my heart. I may have a second complete listen in my near future!

Lies You Never Told Me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more and sample the audio.

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